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2011 National Square Dance Convention Darwin

June 27, 2011

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The following article discusses the 52nd National Square Dance convention from a South Australian perspective :  Ed

The Opening Night

The 2011 National Square Dance Convention was held in Darwin, Northern Territory (NT) for the very first time.  This 52nd National Square Dance Convention spanned 5 days from the 9th to 13th June.  Even though Darwin is a rather remote Australian location and no square dance club exists in the NT, 440 dancers travelled the distance for the occasion.  As one person put it, we may not have had the quantity at this convention but we sure did have the quality.  In my opinion, an overwhelming majority of the dancers were exceptionally competent and the combined quality of our callers was well above that of any previous conventions I have attended.

The theme for this convention was “Dance A While With A Crocodile”. The prop on the stage which was also the sound control booth was supposedly a black crocodile, however some mused it looked like it had cross bred with a hippopotamus.

A Crocopotamus?

At the official opening ceremony, we all sang the two verses of Advance Australia Fair (luckily the words were printed out in the program because hardly anyone knows the second verse).  An Aboriginal lady then spoke and sang Waltzing Matilda in her native tongue and officially declared the convention open and then a group of aboriginal dancers (prisoners from Darwin Goal) performed 5 indigenous dances with some didgeridoo accompaniment.

Aborigine Dancers At The Opening Ceremony

The weather at the top end was perfect.  This time of year is the coldest that it gets in Darwin, nice and warm during the day (about 28 C) with cool evenings (about 15 C), further, the air-conditioning coped well with the needs of our dancers.  This was quite a contrast from last year in Wodonga, many dancers severely criticized that event because they experienced freezing conditions and no heating in the dance venue.  Except for this occasion, why do the powers of B insist on holding national conventions at the coldest time of the year?  Australia has some brilliant weather if only our national convention dates took advantage of this, perhaps then we would witness an increased attendance.

TAWS (Travel Australia With Square Dancers) SA Dress Set

Combined Adelaide Outlaws, Kanella Squares Wild Frontier SA Dress Set

I believe, the person at the convention most dedicated to the promotion of square dancing was Milton McKenzie.  Milton calls for the newly formed fledgling club the Paddle Steamers in Goolwa South Australia, and travels approximately 200 km every Friday to call at their venue.  The club usually manages one square and some extras with two squares on a good night or if visitors attend to swell the ranks. 

Milton arranged for 10 club members to travel to Darwin so they could experience a National convention for the very first time.  Not only did he organize 50% of his club to attend, they also participated in the dress set parade.  To achieve this alone is remarkable.  In the category of amazing is the fact that Milton sewed all the clothes for the dress set, 4 shirts, 4 petticoat, 4 dresses.   That is absolutely fantastic!  Give that man a medal!  I wonder how many other callers are as dedicated to promoting our activity as is Milton.

Miltons Paddlesteamers Dress Set

The Last Night

A great convention well done, the organizing committee deserve a big pat on the back.  Good luck Tasmania for next year, lets hope the Tasmanian Devil in the picture below has as much success as the Darwin crocodile. 

The Darwin Committee Escorted Out Of The Hall By A Tasmanian Devil

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